Christmas Gown 2016 - Completed

Voila! The Countess Papera Ephemera is very pleased with her new gown. 

To mark the 2016 Holiday Season she is now standing outside near our entrance door.
Had she not lost her head during the French revolution, she would have most certainly met 
Napoleon Bonaparte and his Empress Josephine. 

She also shared with me her eagerness to start reading Jane Austen's novels.

Below are a few shots taken inside. 
They are a little fuzzy as daylight was low and my camera is not good with indoor lighting.

Thank you for following me in the making of this new creation.
May you all be visited by wonderful spirits that make your Holiday Season magical.

Christmas Gown, 2016 - Jane Austen's Regency Style - Part IV, The Bust

Bust of Empress Josephine by Joseph Chinard, 1805
Musée du Château, Malmaison, France
For the bodice, I used my garden sedum, previously enhanced with red sparkles. 
I used my glue gun to apply small clusters over the bust area, front and back. 

So the sleeves would be big and puffy looking, I added bunched up chicken wire where the sleeves would be. It offered support for my hydrangeas.

Side details of bodice.

I decorated the area under the bust with a central painted pinecone, beads and gilded leaves.

For the back, a huge red velvet flower and my Luna moth 
over a satin and gold thread bow.

Almost done.

Christmas Gown, 2016 - Jane Austen's Regency Style - Part III, The Greenery

English gown from c.1805-1810. Philadelphia Museum of Art

I've collected my greenery by trimming our evergreens. Glad that this year's gown won't take as much as last year's 18th century one.
Cedar, Yew, Fir, Juniper
Starting from the bottom, I used all the juniper branches around the hem

Working my way upwards, I switched to the yew branches using the underside to create a stronger contrast between the different greens.

I like the different textures and the 'ombre' effect.

In my free time, I painted and dusted with sprinkles some pinecones, sedum branches and hydrangeas from my backyard. Almost everything I use is recycled or from around my house.

Christmas Gown, 2016 - Jane Austen's Regency Style - Part II, The Foundation

Jean-Baptiste REGNAULT French 1754-1829 Empress Josephine (Portrait de laimperatrice Josephine) (c. 1810) oil on canvas, courtesy Fondation Dosne-Thiers (Institut de France), Paris Bequest of Frederic Masson, 1923
What I need to start: Seamstress mannequin, garbage bag, packing tape.

My mannequin is protected with a plastic garbage bag. Packing tape is used to redefine the shape.

Next step supplies: paper, tissue paper, white glue, water, paint brush. Because the neck, shoulders, chest and upper back will not be covered by greenery, I used a 'papier mache' technique to cover those areas. First with white paper, then with rose patterned tissue paper.
Water and white glue mixture (50/50) and a large brush is all you need for this step. If my garbage bag had been white, the white paper under layer would not be necessary. Let dry completely.

Supplies for the next step: 1" and 2" chicken wire, mesh, pliers, measuring tape.
I've been recycling my garden chicken wire for several years now.

The 2" chicken wire is more supple and can be wrapped tightly around the bodice. I make sure it's very tight as it will serve to hook other wire pieces as I go along and will eventually carry most of the weight of the greenery.

 The cut of the Regency dress is high waisted, therefore the waist won't be defined. To help support the top layers of chicken wire, I created a cone shape "undergarment."

 Measuring the length desired, I hooked the two side panels starting from the line under the bust.

I filled in the front and back with pre-cut pointy chicken wire panels
and secured them along the edges.
When cutting the chicken wire, I make certain I'm wearing gloves, long sleeves, and non-snagging clothes like denim. Cutting this stuff is like being attacked by feral cats.

To make sure the hem would keep its circular shape, I used three metal garden tutors which were bent slightly and weaved along the bottom. 
I gathered from my garden, some hydrangeas, pine cones, sedum stems, fine branches, etc...
I also got some gold spray paint and glitter. 
Most importantly, I have to go out to trim my evergreens.

Christmas Gown, 2016 - Jane Austen's Regency Style

It is again the time of year when my old friend the Countess Papera Ephemera makes it known to me that she wants a new gown for the Holidays. 
I've been dipping into the elegant Regency style for inspiration to show the Countess what she would have been wearing had she kept her head and lived to see the nineteenth century. 

New York: Rizzoli, 1990
Jane Austen's Town and Country Style by Susan Watkins is an excellent reference book for those wanting information on the Regency era. To me, Jane Austen is intrinsically linked to this period as her novels paint such a rich and vivid portrait of her time.

The prevailing taste for classical simplicity was reflected in fashion.
The high waist, fluid column folds mimicking ancient greek statues was the Regency's signature look, made popular by the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte and Empress Josephine.

Trains replaced hoops, but both determined the quality and wealth of the lady. 
This beautiful silk embroidered gown worn by Empress Josephine will be the inspiration for the Countess' new evergreen dress. 

Let's see how this one turns out.